The Poorest County in Every State

January 9, 2019 by Sam Stebbins

Source: Magnolia677 / Wikimedia Commons
For years now, each new month has brought news of job growth and signs of a strong economy. As of November 2018, 12-month wage growth reached its highest level in nearly a decade. Often lost in the flood of positive economic news, however, is the plight of Americans in the poorest pockets of the country.

In every state other than Connecticut, there is at least one county where the typical household earns less than the national median annual household income of $57,652. In the vast majority of states, there are counties where most households earn less than $40,000 a year.

These low-income counties tend to have much in common. They are largely rural and have relatively weak job markets. They also tend to have low average life expectancies and declining populations.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed median household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau to identify the poorest county in every state.

To identify the poorest county in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median annual household incomes for each U.S. county using 5-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. We only considered counties with income estimates with a maximum 10% margin of error. We also reviewed in each county the percentage of adults who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, poverty rates, and median home values from the ACS. Unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not seasonally adjusted and are for October 2018.

Click here to see the poorest county in every state.
Click here to see the richest county in every state.

Source: Brent Moore / Flickr

1. Alabama: Sumter County
> County median household income: $21,663
> State median household income: $46,472
> Poverty rate: 36.0%
> Unemployment rate: 5.3%

Sumter County, located in western Alabama along the Mississippi state border, is the poorest county in Alabama and one of the poorest in the United States. A majority of households in Sumter earn less than $22,000 a year. Even more staggering, 28.2% of households earn less than $10,000 a year, the second largest share of any of the more than 3,142 counties and county equivalents in the United States.

Like many other counties on this list, Sumter is shrinking rapidly. In the last five years, the county’s population shrunk by 4.3%, even as Alabama’s population as a whole grew by 1.5%. Now home to 13,000 people, the county’s population has fallen steadily since it peaked at nearly 33,000 in 1900.

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2. Alaska: Kusilvak Census Area
> County median household income: $36,468
> State median household income: $76,114
> Poverty rate: 39.1%
> Unemployment rate: N/A

The typical household in the Kusilvak Census Area in Alaska earns just $36,468 a year, less than half the median income of $76,114 across the state as a whole. The area lies along the coast of the Bering Sea and is bisected by the Yukon River. The low income likely contribute to the widespread financial hardship in the area. Slightly more than 39% of Kusilvak residents live below the poverty line, nearly four times the 10.2% poverty rate in Alaska.

Well-educated populations typically report higher incomes. In the Kusilvak Census Area, fewer than 5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, roughly a sixth of the 29.0% share of adults in Alaska with at least four-year college degree.

Source: Oralleff / Getty Images

3. Arizona: Apache County
> County median household income: $32,360
> State median household income: $53,510
> Poverty rate: 35.9%
> Unemployment rate: 9.4%

Over half of all households in Apache County, Arizona, earn less than $32,000 a year, and about one in every five households earn less than $10,000 a year.

Native Americans living on reservations typically face far greater economic hurdles than other populations. Apache County, which covers much of eastern Arizona along the New Mexico border, is made up largely of the Navajo Nation Reservation. About 73% of the Apache County population identify as Native American.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

4. Arkansas: Phillips County
> County median household income: $26,652
> State median household income: $43,813
> Poverty rate: 33.0%
> Unemployment rate: 5.1%

Phillips County is located in eastern Arkansas along the Mississippi River. The poorest county in the state and one of the poorest in the country, Phillips’ median household income of $26,652 a year is well below both the state median annual household income of $43,813 and the national median of $57,652.

Employment opportunities are relatively scarce in Phillips County as unemployment stood at 5.1% as of October, far higher than the 3.3% unemployment rate in Arkansas. Phillips is also struggling to attract new residents. The county’s population count stands at 19,500, down nearly 10% in the last five years.

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5. California: Lake County
> County median household income: $40,446
> State median household income: $67,169
> Poverty rate: 22.8%
> Unemployment rate: 4.7%

Lake County is located in Northern California, extending into the Mendocino National Forest. The poorest county in the state, Lake County’s median income of $40,446 a year is nearly $27,000 below the California median annual household income.

A relatively weak job market may be partially to blame. Lake County’s 4.7% unemployment rate is higher than both the state unemployment rate of 4.0% and the national rate of 3.8%. Many of the types of jobs common in Lake County are in traditionally low-paying industries like agriculture, forestry, and mining. The concentration of county workers in these industries is more than triple the comparable national concentration.

Source: Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

6. Colorado: Otero County
> County median household income: $35,051
> State median household income: $65,458
> Poverty rate: 22.9%
> Unemployment rate: 4.4%

Otero, a small county of fewer than 19,000 residents located in southeastern Colorado, is the poorest of the 64 counties in the state. The typical household in the county earns just $35,051 a year, more than $30,000 below what the typical house in the state earns. Additionally, 22.9% of county residents live below the poverty line, roughly double the 11.5% statewide poverty rate.

Property values are typically a reflection of what area residents can afford, and in Otero County, the majority of homes are worth less than $100,000. For reference, the typical home in Colorado is worth $286,100.

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7. Connecticut: Windham County
> County median household income: $62,553
> State median household income: $73,781
> Poverty rate: 11.1%
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%

Connecticut’s median annual household income of $73,781 is over $16,000 higher than the national median. A relatively wealthy state, Connecticut’s poorest county, Windham, has a higher median income than most states. Windham County is located in the northeastern corner of the state, along the Massachusetts and Rhode Island state borders and has a median income of $62,553 a year.

Despite a low median income relative to the other seven counties in Connecticut, only a small share of Windham County residents are struggling financially. Just 5.8% of households earn less than $10,000 a year, less than the 6.7% share nationwide.

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8. Delaware: Kent County
> County median household income: $57,647
> State median household income: $63,036
> Poverty rate: 13.0%
> Unemployment rate: 3.8%

Of the three counties in Delaware, Kent is the poorest. The typical household in Kent County earns $57,647 a year, nearly $11,000 less than the typical household in New Castle, its neighboring county to the north.

Delaware is a relatively wealthy state, and despite ranking as the poorest county in the state, Kent County’s median income is in line with national median income of $57,652. The county’s poverty rate of 13.0% is lower than the national poverty rate of 14.6%.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

9. Florida: Madison County
> County median household income: $31,816
> State median household income: $50,883
> Poverty rate: 31.9%
> Unemployment rate: 3.3%

Madison County, located about 50 miles east of Tallahassee, is the poorest county in Florida. About 15% of households in the county earn less than $10,000 a year, more than double the 7.2% share of households statewide. The typical county household earns $31,816 a year, $19,000 less than the typical Florida household and less than half the median income of $73,640 in St. Johns County, Florida’s wealthiest county.

Many low-income counties are losing residents rapidly, and Madison County is no exception. In the last five years, the county’s population shrank by 3.5%, even as Florida’s population as a whole grew by 7.4%.

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Source: Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

10. Georgia: Telfair County
> County median household income: $28,044
> State median household income: $52,977
> Poverty rate: 27.7%
> Unemployment rate: 5.8%

Telfair County is the poorest county in Georgia and one of the poorest counties in the United States. The typical household in the county earns $28,044 a year, well below the median annual household income of $52,977 in Georgia and the $57,652 median nationwide. Low incomes in the area are partially a product of a weak job market. The unemployment rate in Telfair County stands at 5.8%, far higher than the 3.6% unemployment rate across Georgia as a whole.

Lower-income Americans have access to fewer healthy options related to diet and lifestyle as well as less access to health care. Partially as a result, life expectancy is often lower in low-income areas. In Telfair County, life expectancy at birth is 76 years, 3 years shy of the national life expectancy.

Source: Thinkstock

11. Hawaii: Hawaii County
> County median household income: $56,395
> State median household income: $74,923
> Poverty rate: 17.4%
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%

With a median annual household income of about $75,000 — $17,300 more than the national median income — Hawaii is one of the wealthiest states in the country. Even the poorest county in the state, Hawaii County, has a median income of $56,395 a year, only about $1,000 less than the national median.

The job market in Hawaii County, which is coterminous with the island of the same name, is also relatively strong. Some 3.5% of workers in the county are unemployed, a larger share than the 2.5% state unemployment rate but slightly below the 3.8% national rate.

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12. Idaho: Madison County
> County median household income: $33,620
> State median household income: $50,985
> Poverty rate: 31.8%
> Unemployment rate: 1.4%

Madison County is located in southeastern Idaho, not far from the Wyoming state border. Despite having a 1.4% unemployment rate, the lowest of any of the 44 counties in Idaho, Madison County also has the lowest median household income in the state. The typical household in Madison earns just $33,620 a year, about $17,000 less than what the typical Idaho household earns. Madison County is the only County in Idaho where over 30% of residents live below the poverty line.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

13. Illinois: Alexander County
> County median household income: $31,014
> State median household income: $61,229
> Poverty rate: 33.4%
> Unemployment rate: 6.5%

Many of the counties on this list have weak job markets, and Alexander County, located in southern Illinois along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, is one of them. The unemployment rate in Alexander stands at 6.5%, far higher than the 4.2% state unemployment rate and the 3.8% national one. A high unemployment rate can reduce incomes in a given area, and in Alexander County, the typical household earns just $31,014 a year, about $30,000 less than what the typical Illinois household earns. The county’s low incomes are also shown by its high poverty rate. One in every three area residents live below the poverty line, by far the largest share in any of the state’s 102 counties.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Indiana: Crawford County
> County median household income: $40,067
> State median household income: $52,182
> Poverty rate: 17.8%
> Unemployment rate: 4.5%

Populations with higher educational attainment tend have higher incomes. In Crawford County, Indiana, just one in every 10 adults have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the 25.3% of adults statewide with a bachelor’s degree. Many of the jobs in the county do not likely require a college degree. For example, one in every four workers in the county is employed in manufacturing, a far greater than typical concentration. The typical household in Crawford County earns just $40,067 a year, about $12,000 less than the typical Indiana household and about $17,500 less than the typical American household.

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15. Iowa: Appanoose County
> County median household income: $40,377
> State median household income: $56,570
> Poverty rate: 17.1%
> Unemployment rate: 2.6%

In the poorest county in Iowa, Appanoose County, the typical household earns just $40,377 a year, about $16,000 less than the typical Iowa household. Real estate values in a given area are often reflective of what residents can afford. In Appanoose, the typical home is worth just $78,000, well below the median home value of $137,200 across the state as a whole.

Appanoose County, located in southern Iowa along the Missouri state border, is losing residents rapidly. In the last five years, the number of people living in the county fell by 2.4% — even as Iowa’s population grew by 2.3%.

Source: Jon Roanhaus / Wikimedia Commons

16. Kansas: Crawford County
> County median household income: $38,017
> State median household income: $55,477
> Poverty rate: 21.1%
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%

Crawford County is located in southeastern Kansas along the Missouri state border. The typical household in Crawford earns just $38,017 a year, the least of any county in the state. More than one in five Crawford County residents live in poverty, and about one in every 10 area households earn less than $10,000 a year.

Many of the counties on this list are home to relatively few college-educated adults, but Crawford is a notable exception. Some 28.9% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, only slightly below the 32.3% statewide and 30.9% nationwide bachelor’s degree attainment rates. The relatively high educational attainment in Crawford County is likely attributable to the presence of Pittsburg State University, a public institution with just under 6,000 students.

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17. Kentucky: McCreary County
> County median household income: $19,264
> State median household income: $46,535
> Poverty rate: 41.0%
> Unemployment rate: 5.9%

McCreary County is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest in southern Kentucky along the Tennessee state border. The only county nationwide where most households earn less than $20,000 a year, McCreary is the poorest county in both Kentucky and the United States.

Low incomes are precipitated in part by a weak job market. Unemployment in the county stood at 5.9% as of October 2018, well above the 4.2% state and 3.8% national unemployment rates. Poorer Americans can afford fewer healthy options related to diet and lifestyle, and partially as a result, often have a lower life expectancy. In McCreary County, the average life expectancy at birth of just 73 years is 6 years below the national average.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

18. Louisiana: Claiborne Parish
> County median household income: $26,877
> State median household income: $46,710
> Poverty rate: 29.9%
> Unemployment rate: 4.9%

The typical household in Louisiana’s Claiborne Parish earns just $26,877 a year, about $20,000 less than what the typical household in the state earns. Less than 1% of area households earn $200,000 or more a year, and 17.3% earn less than $10,000 a year.

Located in northern Louisiana along the Arkansas state border, Claiborne — like other counties on this list — is shrinking rapidly. In the last five years, the number of people living in Claiborne fell by 4.5%, even as Louisiana’s population grew by 3.0%.

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19. Maine: Piscataquis County
> County median household income: $38,797
> State median household income: $53,024
> Poverty rate: 18.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%

The typical household in Piscataquis County, Maine, earns just $38,797 a year, the least of any county in the state and nearly the lowest median household income in the broader New England region. Additionally, 18.7% of county residents live below the poverty line, the second largest share of any New England county.

Like many counties on this list, Piscataquis is a rural county with a declining population. In the last five years, the number of people living there fell by 2.7%. Over the same period, Maine’s population has remained flat.

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20. Maryland: Allegany County
> County median household income: $42,771
> State median household income: $78,916
> Poverty rate: 16.8%
> Unemployment rate: 4.8%

Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country. The typical household in the state earns $78,916 a year, about $21,000 more than the typical American household. Even in Allegany County, the poorest county in Maryland, the typical household earns $42,771, in line with the median income of some states. The 16.8% poverty rate in the county is only slightly higher than the 14.6% poverty rate nationwide.

Allegany County is located in northwestern Maryland, sandwiched between West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Wealthier counties in the state are located further south around Washington, D.C.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

21. Massachusetts: Hampden County
> County median household income: $52,205
> State median household income: $74,167
> Poverty rate: 17.2%
> Unemployment rate: 4.0%

With a median annual household income of $74,167 — $16,500 more than the typical American household — Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest states in the country. Even in Hampden County, the poorest county in the state, the typical household earns $52,205 a year, more than the median income in 16 states.

Hampden is located in southern Massachusetts along the Connecticut state border and is seated by the city of Springfield. The lower median income in the county is likely due in part to the relatively weak job market. Unemployment in Hampden County stands at 4.0%, higher than the 2.9% statewide unemployment rate.

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22. Michigan: Lake County
> County median household income: $32,309
> State median household income: $52,668
> Poverty rate: 25.0%
> Unemployment rate: 4.8%

Lake County, located in east-central Michigan, is the poorest county in the state. The typical household in Lake County earns $32,309 a year, about $20,000 less than the typical household in the state. Lake is one of the only counties in Michigan where one in every four residents lives below the poverty line.

Low-income areas often have shorter average life expectancies than more affluent areas. In Lake County, the average life expectancy at birth fell from 77.8 years in 2010 to 76.8 years in 2014. Nationwide, life expectancy climbed from 78.5 years to 79.1 over the same period.

Source: afiler / Flickr

23. Minnesota: Mahnomen County
> County median household income: $42,439
> State median household income: $65,699
> Poverty rate: 22.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.2%

Mahnomen has the lowest median income of any county in Minnesota and is the only county in the state where more than one in every five residents live below the poverty line. Americans without a college degree are not qualified for as many high-paying jobs as those with a college education. In Mahnomen, just 12.1% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the smallest share of any county in the state.

Mahnomen County is one of many counties on this list that contain Native American reservations. The White Earth Indian Reservation, home to the Chippewa tribe, is located in the county, and over 40% of the county’s population identifies as American Indian.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

24. Mississippi: Holmes County
> County median household income: $20,330
> State median household income: $42,009
> Poverty rate: 46.5%
> Unemployment rate: 7.7%

Holmes County is the poorest county in Mississippi. The typical state household earns $42,009 a year, about $15,600 less than the typical American household. In Holmes County, the typical household earns just $20,330, about $22,000 less than the typical MIssissippi household. Like other counties on this list, Holmes has a weak job market and a shrinking population. The county’s unemployment rate stands at 7.7%, more than double the 3.8% national unemployment rate. Additionally, in the last five years, the county’s population shrank by 4.9%, even as Mississippi’s population grew by 0.6%.

Serious financial hardship is widespread in Holmes County. Over 46% of county residents live below the poverty line, more than double the state’s 21.5% poverty rate and more than triple the 14.6% national poverty rate.

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25. Missouri: Shannon County
> County median household income: $31,202
> State median household income: $51,542
> Poverty rate: 30.5%
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%

The typical household in Shannon County, Missouri, earns just $31,202 a year, about $20,000 less than the median household income in the state. Additionally, 30.5% of county residents live below the poverty line, more than double the 14.6% state poverty rate.

Shannon is a relatively rural county in southern Missouri. The low incomes are attributable in part to the high concentration of jobs in low-paying industries. More than one in every 10 workers in the county are in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs.

Source: J.B. Chandler / Wikimedia Commons

26. Montana: Blaine County
> County median household income: $35,506
> State median household income: $50,801
> Poverty rate: 32.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%

Nearly one in every three residents of Blaine County, Montana, live below the poverty line, and a majority area households earn less than $36,000 a year. Poorer areas typically have lower average life expectancies, and in Blaine County, life expectancy at birth is about 76 years, 3 years shy of the national average.

Blaine County is located in northern Montana, between the Canadian border and the Missouri River. The county contains the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes. About half of the county population identifies as Native American.

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27. Nebraska: Sheridan County
> County median household income: $41,209
> State median household income: $56,675
> Poverty rate: 15.8%
> Unemployment rate: 2.3%

Sheridan County is located in northwestern Nebraska along the South Dakota state border. The typical household in the county earns just $41,209 a year, $15,000 less than the typical household in Nebraska. In many counties on this list, low incomes are partially attributable to a weak job market. In Sheridan County, however, just 2.3% of workers are unemployed, well below the 2.6% state and 3.8% national unemployment rates.

The county’s low median income is largely attributable to a high concentration of jobs in low-paying industries. For example, 15.8% of workers in the county are employed in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs.

Source: Terry Feuerborn / Flickr

28. Nevada: Nye County
> County median household income: $44,225
> State median household income: $55,434
> Poverty rate: 17.3%
> Unemployment rate: 5.5%

Nye County is located in southern Nevada along the California state border. The typical county household earns $44,225 a year, about $11,000 less than the typical Nevada household. Lower incomes in the county are partially attributable to a lack of jobs. The county’s unemployment rate stands at 5.5%, well above the 4.2% statewide unemployment rate.

Poorer counties often have lower than average educational attainment rates, and Nye County is no exception. Just 11.5% of county adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than half the 23.7% share of adults across the state as a whole.

Source: R_Berthiaume / Getty Images

29. New Hampshire: Coos County
> County median household income: $45,386
> State median household income: $71,305
> Poverty rate: 13.3%
> Unemployment rate: 2.4%

Coos County comprises the northernmost point of New Hampshire and borders Vermont to the west, Canada to the north, and Maine to the east. The typical household in the county earns $45,386 a year, about $26,000 less than the typical household in the state.

Still, relative to the nation as a whole, Coos County is not especially poor. Just 13.3% of area residents live below the poverty line, below the 14.6% national poverty rate. Additionally, just 5.2% of households in Coos County earn less than $10,000 a year, a smaller share than the 6.7% of households nationwide.

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30. New Jersey: Cumberland County
> County median household income: $50,000
> State median household income: $76,475
> Poverty rate: 18.8%
> Unemployment rate: 5.1%

With a median annual household income of $76,475 — about $19,000 more than the national median income — New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the country. Even in Cumberland, the poorest county in the state, the typical household earns $50,000 a year, more than the median income in 10 states.

The relatively low median income in Cumberland County is partially attributable to the high jobless rate. The county’s 5.1% October unemployment rate is well above the 3.6% state and 3.8% national rates that month. The county is located in southern New Jersey along the Delaware Bay. More affluent counties in the state are located further north, outside New York City.

Source: traveler1116 / Getty Images

31. New Mexico: Quay County
> County median household income: $26,663
> State median household income: $46,718
> Poverty rate: 21.6%
> Unemployment rate: 4.7%

Quay County is located in eastern New Mexico along the Texas state border. The median annual household income in Quay County is $26,663, $20,000 below the statewide median. The county’s low median income is largely attributable to a high concentration of jobs in low-paying industries. For example, 6.6% of workers in the county are employed in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs. Meanwhile, less that 5% of workers in the county are employed in professional, scientific, and management jobs — less than half the industry’s 11.3% employment concentration nationwide.

Like many poor counties on this list, Quay County is shrinking rapidly. In the last five years, the county’s population shrank by 5.7%, even as the state’s population grew 1.4%.

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32. New York: Bronx County
> County median household income: $36,593
> State median household income: $62,765
> Poverty rate: 29.7%
> Unemployment rate: 5.3%

Bronx County, coterminous with the Bronx borough of New York City, is the only county in New York state where most households earn less than $40,000 a year. The typical household in the county earns $36,593 a year, about $8,000 less than the median income in Chautauqua County, the second poorest county in the state. About 30% of Bronx County residents live below the poverty line, the largest share of any of New York’s 62 counties.

In most counties on this list, real estate prices are far lower than typical. Bronx County is a notable exception. New York City has some of the most highly coveted and expensive real estate in the country, and as one of the city’s five boroughs, the Bronx’s median home value is $371,800, well above the median value of $293,000 statewide and $193,500 nationwide.

Source: NCDavid33 / Wikimedia Commons

33. North Carolina: Bertie County
> County median household income: $31,287
> State median household income: $50,320
> Poverty rate: 22.0%
> Unemployment rate: 4.2%

Bertie County is located in northeastern North Carolina along the Chowan River. Most households in the county earn less than $32,000 a year, and more than one in every nine households earn less than $10,000 a year. A high jobless rate is partially to blame. The unemployment rate in the county stands at 4.2%, well above the state’s 3.4% unemployment rate.

Like many other counties on this list, Bertie County’s population is shrinking rapidly. In the last five years, the number of people living there declined by 5.3%. Over the same period, North Carolina’s population climbed by 5.3%.

Source: Andrew Filer / Flickr

34. North Dakota: Rolette County
> County median household income: $36,170
> State median household income: $61,285
> Poverty rate: 32.4%
> Unemployment rate: 6.2%

Rolette County is located in north-central North Dakota along the Canadian border. The poorest county in the state, 18.1% of households in Rolette earn less than $10,000 a year, the largest share in any of South Dakota’s 53 counties. Additionally, 32.4% of county residents live below the poverty line, nearly triple the state’s 11.0% poverty rate.

Low incomes and widespread financial hardship are partially attributable to a weak job market. In Rolette County, 6.2% of workers are unemployed, the highest unemployment rate of any county in the state and well below the 3.8% national unemployment rate. Poorer areas typically have lower than average life expectancy, and in Rolette, life expectancy at birth is 73 years, 6 years below the national average.

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Source: Aesopposea / Wikimedia Commons

35. Ohio: Adams County
> County median household income: $36,320
> State median household income: $52,407
> Poverty rate: 23.8%
> Unemployment rate: 6.5%

Adams County is located in southern Ohio, across the Ohio River from Kentucky. The typical household in Adams County earns just $36,320 a year, the lowest median income of any county in the state and about $16,000 less than the median income across the state as a whole.

An improved job market would likely raise incomes in Adams as 6.5% of workers in the county are unemployed, the highest unemployment rate of any Ohio county. Poor economic conditions may be driving people out of the county. In the last five years, the county’s population shrank by 2.1%, even as Ohio’s population grew by 0.7%.

Source: Bill Lile / Flickr

36. Oklahoma: Choctaw County
> County median household income: $30,298
> State median household income: $49,767
> Poverty rate: 31.0%
> Unemployment rate: 4.2%

Choctaw County is located in southeastern Oklahoma along the Red River, which makes up the state border with Texas. In Choctaw County, half of all households earn less than $30,298, and about 15% of households earn less than $10,000. Choctaw also has a 31% poverty rate, the highest of any county in the state.

Low incomes are partially attributable to the kinds of jobs available in the county. For example, 6.9% of workers in Choctaw County work in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs. Meanwhile, just 5.4% of workers in the county are employed in professional, scientific, and management jobs — less than half the industry’s 11.3% employment concentration nationwide.

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Source: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives / Wikimedia Commons

37. Oregon: Malheur County
> County median household income: $37,112
> State median household income: $56,119
> Poverty rate: 25.2%
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%

Malheur County residents are more likely to face financial hardship than those in any other part of Oregon. More than 10% of county households live on less than $10,000 per year, the only part of Oregon where that is the case. The county also has far and away the highest poverty rate in Oregon at 25.2%.

There is a strong correlation between an area’s educational attainment and income. Malheur County adults have a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 13.2%, less than half of the state’s college attainment rate of 32.3%. This may at least partially explain why the typical county household earns about $19,000 less than the typical household statewide.

Source: zrfphoto / Getty Images

38. Pennsylvania: Forest County
> County median household income: $37,106
> State median household income: $56,951
> Poverty rate: 14.1%
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%

Forest County is appropriately named, as it is spans much of the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern area of Pennsylvania. The county’s median annual household income, which is nearly $20,000 lower than that of the state, may be hampered by the population’s relatively low level of educational attainment. Just 7.0% of adults in Forest County hold at least a bachelor’s degree, the lowest level in Pennsylvania and one of thelowest levels of any county in the U.S. For context, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate statewide is over 30%.

Source: Thinkstock

39. Rhode Island: Providence County
> County median household income: $52,530
> State median household income: $61,043
> Poverty rate: 16.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.4%

Providence has by far the largest population of Rhode Island’s five counties. With more than 633,000 residents, it makes up more than 60% of the state’s population. Though Providence County has the lowest median annual household income in the state, it is still only about $5,000 lower than the U.S. median. Yet, the county’s median household income is more than $16,500 lower than in any other county in Rhode Island.

Statewide, 13.4% of Rhode Island residents live in poverty. In the four counties outside of Providence County, the poverty rate is less than 10%. In Providence County, the poverty rate is 16.7%.

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Source: Upstateherd / Wikimedia Commons

40. South Carolina: Allendale County
> County median household income: $23,331
> State median household income: $48,781
> Poverty rate: 30.4%
> Unemployment rate: 5.6%

Allendale County, which borders Georgia, has the lowest median household income of any South Carolina county. The typical household earns $23,331 a year, less than half of South Carolina’s median annual household income of $48,781. More than 30% of county residents live in poverty, and more than one out of every five households earns less than $10,000 annually, one of the highest such shares in the nation.

Poverty can have a serious detrimental effect on health. Allendale County residents have an average life expectancy at birth of just under 73 years, more than 6 years less than the average life expectancy nationwide.

Source: JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD / Wikimedia Commons

41. South Dakota: Mellette County
> County median household income: $31,165
> State median household income: $54,126
> Poverty rate: 42.6%
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%

The typical household in Mellette County, South Dakota, earns just $31,165 a year, about $23,000 less than the median income across the state as a whole. The area’s low incomes are partially attributable to a weak job market. Some 4.1% of workers in the county are out of a job, well above the 2.6% state unemployment rate.

A far larger than typical share of those who are working in the county are employed in jobs in relatively low-paying industries. For example, 17.6% of workers in the county are employed in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs.

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Source: Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons

42. Tennessee: Scott County
> County median household income: $31,875
> State median household income: $48,708
> Poverty rate: 26.2%
> Unemployment rate: 4.8%

In Scott County, the unemployment rate is 4.8%, more than a full percentage point higher than it is across Tennessee. The relatively high unemployment rate likely contributes to the low median income and high poverty rate in the area. More than a quarter of residents, 26.2%, live below the poverty line. Most households in the county live on less than $32,000 a year.

Tennessee’s population change over the past five years was in line with the U.S. population growth rate of 3.8%. Yet, perhaps because of relatively weak economic conditions, Scott County’s population fell by 1.1% in that same time.

Source: 56775593@N05 / Flickr

43. Texas: Starr County
> County median household income: $27,133
> State median household income: $57,051
> Poverty rate: 35.0%
> Unemployment rate: 7.9%

Starr County is located in southern Texas along the U.S. border with Mexico. The typical county household earns just $27,133 a year, less than half the median income across Texas as a whole of $57,051 a year. Serious financial hardship is common in the county as more than one in every three residents live below the poverty line.

Many poor counties have weak job markets, and Starr County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Some 7.9% of workers in the county are out of a job, more than double the 3.5% unemployment rate in Texas.

Source: kojihirano / Getty Images

44. Utah: Wayne County
> County median household income: $42,444
> State median household income: $65,325
> Poverty rate: 9.2%
> Unemployment rate: 2.9%

The typical household in Wayne County, Utah earns $42,444 a year, about $23,000 less than the typical Utah household. Though Wayne County is the least affluent area in Utah, a relatively small share of residents are impoverished. The county’s poverty rate of 9.2% is well below the state’s poverty rate of 11%. Nearly a quarter of Wayne County residents work in blue-collar jobs. Nearly 15% of county workers are employed in the construction sector, and 10% work in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, or mining — compared to 6.4% and 1.9% employment concentrations nationwide, respectively. These jobs are not often especially high-paying, but can provide enough income to keep above the poverty line.

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Source: mar_ibert / Flickr

45. Vermont: Essex County
> County median household income: $38,767
> State median household income: $57,808
> Poverty rate: 15.5%
> Unemployment rate: 2.3%

Just 14.7% of adults in Essex County, Vermont hold at least a bachelor’s degree, less than half of the state and national bachelor’s degree attainment rates. Low educational attainment suggests that a small share of the working population are qualified for many traditionally high-paying jobs. Most households in Essex County earn less than $39,000 a year, well below the $57,808 statewide median income.

Source: Virginia Department of Transportation's photostream / Flickr

46. Virginia: Buchanan County
> County median household income: $30,828
> State median household income: $68,766
> Poverty rate: 26.5%
> Unemployment rate: 5.1%

The typical Virginia household earns $68,766 a year, about $11,000 more than the typical American household. Though Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in the country, most households in Buchanan County earn less than $31,000 a year. Additionally, more than one in every four county residents live below the poverty line, more than double the 11.2% state poverty rate.

Buchanan County is located in western Virginia along the West Virginia and Kentucky state borders. Many of the wealthier counties in the state are located in the northwest, within commuting distance of Washington D.C.

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Source: AlbertoLoyo / Getty Images

47. Washington: Pacific County
> County median household income: $39,895
> State median household income: $66,174
> Poverty rate: 18.6%
> Unemployment rate: 6.1%

Pacific County is the only county in Washington state where a majority households earn less than $40,000 a year. Higher-paying jobs typically require at least a college education, and in Pacific County, just 17% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, less than half the 34.5% share of adults statewide who do.

A far larger than typical share of workers in the county work in occupations in relatively low-paying industries. For example, 8.3% are employed in farming, hunting, fishing, forestry, and mining occupations. Nationwide, only about 2% of workers are employed in those jobs.

Source: NASKWV / Flickr

48. West Virginia: McDowell County
> County median household income: $25,595
> State median household income: $44,061
> Poverty rate: 34.9%
> Unemployment rate: 8.6%

McDowell County’s median household income of $25,595 a year is the lowest in West Virginia and among the lowest of any U.S. county. More than a third of county residents — 34.9% — live in poverty, one of the higher poverty rates in the nation. These economic struggles are at least partially attributable to the county’s unemployment rate. As of October, 8.6% of McDowell County’s labor force was out of work, well above West Virginia’s 4.6% unemployment rate.

McDowell County has one of the lowest bachelor’s degree attainment rates in the country, at just 4.9%. West Virginia’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate is the lowest of any state, at 19.9%, but it is still more than four times higher than that of McDowell County.

Source: Royalbroil / Wikimedia Commons

49. Wisconsin: Menominee County
> County median household income: $38,080
> State median household income: $56,759
> Poverty rate: 35.8%
> Unemployment rate: 4.4%

Indian reservations are home to some of the poorest populations in the United States. Menominee County, Wisconsin, includes the Menominee Reservation and ranks as the poorest county in the state. Most county households earn less than $38,100 a year, and more than one in every three residents live below the poverty line.

Better-educated areas tend to report higher incomes, and in Menominee County, just 15.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well below the 29.0% share of adults in Wisconsin with a four-year college degree.

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Source: Jasperdo / Flickr

50. Wyoming: Albany County
> County median household income: $45,816
> State median household income: $60,938
> Poverty rate: 23.0%
> Unemployment rate: 2.9%

At $45,816, Albany County’s median annual household income is more than $15,000 lower than that of Wyoming. Albany County is one of just two counties to rank as poorest in their respective states despite having a bachelor’s degree attainment rate higher than that of its state. Nearly half of county adults hold at least a bachelor’s degree, nearly double Wyoming’s 26.7% bachelor’s degree attainment rate.

A high bachelor’s degree attainment rate is due in part to the presence of a major research university. The University of Wyoming is located in Albany’s county seat, Laramie. Also because of the the university, 42.3% of the county’s labor force work in education, nearly double the 23.1% share of American workers.